Week or so after the cyber attack on Facebook employee’s computers, Apple has reported a breach in their security system as well but after thorough investigation no data had been taken and will release an app to protect against this sort of attack again. According to a U.S. computer security company believes the hacking attacks were perpetrated by a secretive Chinese military unit prompting China to deny these allegations and accuse the U.S. of hacking them. The company, Mandiant, identified the People’s Liberation Army’s Shanghai based Unit 61398 as the group who likely carried out the attack and other attacks on a wide range of industries. On Monday Mandiant reported that “The nature of ‘Unit 61398’s’ work is considered by China to be a state secret; however, we believe it engages in harmful ‘Computer Network Operations’…It is time to acknowledge the threat is originating in China, and we wanted to do our part to arm and prepare security professionals to combat that threat effectively.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry doubts the evidence in the report and continues to deny the hacking. Spokesman Hong Lei during a daily news briefing said the attacks are extremely hard to trace to their origins since hacking attacks are transnational and anonymous. He continued,”arbitrary criticism based on rudimentary data is irresponsible, unprofessional and not helpful in resolving the issue.” Furthermore, Hong points out that the U.S. is behind hacking in China: “Of the above mentioned Internet hacking attacks, attacks originating from the United States rank first.”
Mandiant reports that Unit 61398 is located in China’s financial and banking hub and staffed by thousands fluent in English as well as computer programming and network operations. According to Mandiant, “hundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 organisations across a diverse set of industries beginning as early as 2006.” Most of the victims were in the U.S. with smaller numbers in Canada and Britain with data ranging from mergers and acquisitions to senior employees emails. U.S. officials in the past have complained about sanctioned trade secret theft, but limited public record have existed. The company traced Unit 61398’s presence to the internet and name it as a major contributor to operations against the U.S. companies. In November 2011, the U.S. National Counterintelligence Executive publicly decried China as the biggest known thief of U.S. trade secrets according to the Huff Post.